High and Low

May 13, 2010

It’s 80s week! Well, it was 80s Monday and Tuesday, anyway. My boyfriend interviewed the guitar player of a-ha for the Post, and scored tickets to their show at Massey Hall on Monday night. So we went, expecting a fun, cheesy time, bracing ourselves because we only know a few songs. Well, J. knows a few songs – he lived in Europe for a year in the 80s when a-ha was massive over there. My main experience of a-ha is typically North American: I just love Take on Me. When I was in Australia for six weeks in 2006, I heard Take On Me everywhere I went. At least once a day, sometimes more. (And then, obviously, this video is hilarious.)

So imagine my surprise when a-ha at Massey Hall TOTALLY BLEW MY MIND. They’re excellent performers, and so much fun to watch (and dreamy, frankly). They have magical Norweigen powers and turned everyone in Massey Hall into a shrieking teenybopper. (I’m surprised people didn’t throw panties!) Their music – even the songs I didn’t recognize – was fantastic, and sounded huge, and the visuals were awesome.

Ain't no pop music like lizard pop music.

Yes. a-ha. Most underappreciated band of all time.

Tuesday night, unfortunately, wasn’t nearly so joyous. Rock of Ages was the opposite of joy. Glenn Sumi gets it right in NOW. It just made me sad, really – the show was so clearly written by people who have nothing but contempt for theatre. The whole thing feels like a big fuck you to theatre lovers. Also, rock music. And humanity in general. I feel like a cranky old snob when I complain about shows like this, and maybe I am. But it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t even particularly funny. It was aggressively stupid, with lazy storytelling, and annoying mashups of songs that used to be great. But I’m not going to win this round. Everyone in the theatre was laughing their asses off at the lamest jokes, and shrieking with delighted recognition at the opening riffs of their favourite songs. There’s no point in listing off the problems with the idiotic book – we’d be here all day, and the writers and fans would just throw off my criticisms with a “who cares, we know it’s dumb” anyway.

The one good part is the performances – Elicia Mackenzie has a great voice, and totally proves that she won’t be typecast as Maria. So that’s nice. And everyone else does their job well and looks like they’re having a good time. So that’s nice too. I just wish things like this didn’t happen to theatre.

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3 Responses to “High and Low”

  1. Jen Says:

    I’m glad you guys had a great time at the a-ha show! Sounds like fun!

  2. jennifer brewin Says:

    Now I understand why Richard Ouzounian loved Rock Of Ages so much.

  3. MK Says:

    So glad you’ve caught on to the wonder of a-ha. I’ve been a fan for 25 years so the concert was a culmination of a lot of years of waiting. Thanks for the review! I’ll pass it along to my fellow fans.

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